I have always grown up Church of Christ. My family has been going
to the same church for three generations, and I grew up reciting bible verses
and Christian beliefs from birth. I knew exactly what was right and what was
wrong. I was a stereotypical, conservative, Bible-Belt-reared girl and was
proud of it. That is, until I was in the seventh grade and realized that I was
attracted to my best friend. The problem? She was a girl. This went against
everything that I believed to be morally right, or even possible. Only bad
people were gay, right? As I struggled with these feelings, I began
researching if it was even possible to be gay and a Christian at the same time,
but was not connected to the right resources. I fell away from my faith for
this, and other reasons.
Flash forward to my junior year of high school. I was 16, and had
been suppressing these feelings for so long that being “gay” wasn’t even on
my radar, until the first day of junior year. I made friends with a new girl in
my class, and she spent the night at my house. As we were talking about
ourselves, she came out to me as being a lesbian, and I did the same.
Unbeknownst to me, my mother was listening at my door, and heard me say
this. The next week, I came out to both my parents in a crying, sleepdeprived
frenzy, which proved to be the worst decision possible. They were
The next day, I was dragged after school to a “Christian” counselor,
who turned out to not even have a real license to practice, just a certificate
from the “Christian Counselors of America” organization. Over the next 8
months, I was told over and over that I was wrong, that how I felt was
disgusting, that I was just looking for attention, that I was going to hell.
Which, as you could imagine, did wonders for my self-esteem. When simple
emotional-damage wasn’t doing enough, I was made to do aversion therapy
in the form of small, physical, self-inflicted abuses whenever I had “those
thoughts.” This led to me developing self-harm habits that I still struggle
I was encouraged to pinch, scratch, or hurt myself in some small
way, as well as pop myself with a rubber band or rub an eraser on my arm
until the thoughts went away. I was even assigned “homework” of watching
softcore heterosexual pornography, in the hopes that it would entice me to
change my “deviant ways.”
All these things, rather than turning me straight, drove an even
deeper wedge between me and my parents, my faith, and even myself. I felt
alone, not listened to, and cast away because I was not good enough.
Conversion therapy, or “reparative therapy”, as it is sometimes
called, has never been approved or credited as legitimate therapy practice by
mental health organizations, but only 10 states and the District of Columbia
have laws to protect minors from these dangerous practices.
The American Psychological Association does not recognize
homosexuality as a mental disorder. Since they do not see it as a disorder,
they do not support any sort of therapy to “cure” homosexuality. Over
480,000 mental health professionals involved in numerous accredited
psychology associations back this. However, a growing sect of “Christian”
therapists are offering these practices, and this is a growing problem for
young LGBT+ teens. There are therapy sessions, camps, even “after hour”
meetings, which all result in the teens growing up with warped self-esteem
and identity issues, and most result in the statistics above.
Today, I can proudly say that I am a lesbian, I am a Christian, and I
am a survivor of conversion therapy. I say survivor because, though I was
not subjected to electro-shock therapy or the more intense versions that some
teens are, I was told in my formative years that I was an abomination, that I
was disgusting; but I am still here. I am learning to love myself again, and I
am learning to love God and others.
To students who are gay and went through any form of conversion
therapy: I am so sorry. What you went through was not right, and I am here
for you. You are not disgusting, you are not wrong, and you can love God
and someone of your own gender.
To students who are gay and did not go through conversion therapy:
count your blessings that you did not. However, just because you did not,
does not mean that you do not deserve the same amount of support and love.
I am here for you.
To students who are straight and may have gay children someday:
please, please, PLEASE do not even consider conversion therapy for your
children. Being gay is not wrong, and no matter your personal views on it,
cannot be “fixed.” All that you would be doing is driving a wedge between
you and your children, and I know that that is not what you want. Please
instead love your children, hold them tightly, and teach them to love
themselves, and one day they will thank you, instead of keeping you out of